Please scroll below for my review.
From USA Today bestselling author Kimberly Kincaid comes CROSSING PROMISES, the third standalone title in the Cross Creek series, releasing March 5th! A series filled with rugged, salt of the earth heroes who happen to be brothers, and strong family dynamics. Each standalone novel is filled with heart, humor, and heat. Order your copies of the Cross Creek series today!
For Owen Cross, the only thing that matters more than family is farming. As the oldest Cross brother, the land is his legacy, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make Cross Creek a success—including hiring local widow Cate McAllister to manage the bookkeeping tasks that are growing in his office like weeds. Cate’s as pragmatic as she is pretty, and she rattles his hard-fought composure at every turn.
Cate had known a lot of things about her husband before he died three years ago in a car accident, but how much debt he’d gotten them into wasn’t one of them. She needs her job at Cross Creek, even if her boss is both gruff and gorgeous. But Owen’s a family man, through and through, and the last thing Cate is interested in is anything—or anyone—with strings attached.
As Owen and Cate join forces to right the farm, they discover there’s more to the other than the surfaces shows, and that passion can be found in unexpected places. Can Cate heal from the loss of one family to gain the love of her life? Or will the past prove too much for the promise of the future?
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SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
So I feel like I should call this the three for Thursday or something.
Literally in the past three days (let’s not go into the whys or wherefores or the deadline crunch), I’ve had the fortune of reading all three of the Cross Creek novels, which I will review separately below.
First off, reading these novels has been a great experience. Kimberly Kincaid really relates to her characters. My only disappointment is that when I learned that the novels were in the Shenandoah Valley, my heart surged because this is my place, but unfortunately the setting never felt like home to me. In fact, in the first novel, Crossing Hearts, I felt like I was somewhere very far south of my Shenandoah Valley, a place where people drank sweet tea, spoke with a Dixie accent rather than a Valley accent, and said “bless your heart” at the drop of a hat. I was also kind of mystified as to how someone would need to drive three hours to reach a hospital in the Shenandoah Valley; I felt like I was reading about Wyoming or some such.
Anyway, the novels were still all good even if I never felt the sense of place.
The first novel in the Cross Creek series is a second chance love story involving Hunter, the man who never wanted to leave his hometown, and Emerson, the woman who couldn’t leave quickly enough even though she loved Hunter fiercely.
The majority of the novel worked pretty well for me with an exceedingly patient and stand-up hero in Hunter. Considering that Emerson bailed on him, I think he treated her so much better than one would ever expect. The fault with this novel comes in the form of the supposedly intelligent Emerson. While initially I considered her credible and even admirable, the longer the novel went on, the more I became frustrated with her. Her stupidity in dealing with her health issues, her stubbornness in keeping her secret, and the blindspot toward her parents detracted from an otherwise enjoyable story.
(I am not a fan of the cover. He’s supposed to be the best looking but I prefer the guys on the other covers…is it just me?!)
In Crossing Hearts it was obvious that youngest brother, Eli, was hiding something, which I did guess at the time. He was a writer. He was the one who was writing the text for the farm’s publicity. He keeps Shakespeare audio in his truck and a Walt Whitman book of poetry by his bedside. He’s a dreamer and a reader and he’s never felt like he belonged with his brothers and father who love Cross Creek with all of their being.
Scarlett, a renowned photographer, comes to the farm to help her best friend. Scarlett is a vegan. My observation regarding vegans and vegetarians in the romance novels I’ve read is this: it’s easier to be a minority or gay than to be a vegan. You don’t know how many times I’ve encountered snarky behavior regarding vegetarians or vegans as if this lifestyle is somehow offensive to the author. They’ve even gone to the extent of smirking when a vegan has eaten an animal byproduct. So, you don’t know how pleased I was to find that Scarlett’s veganism was treated well. No one joked at her or tried to feed her bacon. How great is that?! Yay you, Kimberly Kincaid!
I got sidelined. Heh. I loved the rapport between Eli and Scarlett. Scarlett is feisty and her own person and Eli is charming, although sometimes unsure. But he’s a good writer and lots of things can be forgiven for that. I loved how unique both of these characters were and that they were able to come together…and you know, the steam.
I have to tell you I didn’t think I’d like Crossing Promises too much. Owen was my least favorite brother. He was sullen and a real downer. He never came across as having a sense of humor or being charming or….well…anything.
And then, pow. Cate.
It was as if when Cate entered his life he became someone else. He became sexy and understanding and tolerant.
So, yup. Somehow, Crossing Promises became my favorite of the three Cross Creek novels. Not just because of Owen, however. Cate comes to mind too.
She is the town’s young pitiable widow. She lost her husband and daughter. But, inside she’s been tormenting herself over decisions she made the day her husband and daughter died.
She has always lost herself in baking. The harder the recipe, the happier she is. She’s a multi-faceted character that I grew to love. She has gentle strength and an intelligence that is not book-learned.
Out of all the books, these characters just felt deeper and had more of a story than the others. And, yep, if you’ve read my reviews, you know I like characters with a story.
I enjoyed being able to read all of the Cross Creek novels at the same time. Binge, anyone? As we all know, bingeing brings us closer to the characters, but we can also see the development of the author along the way. Kimberly Kincaid is just getting better with each novel, developing more layered characters and stories for us to love. I am hoping that there’s a Marley novel in our future….and please make her love interest a country singer (heh [a girl can hope]).
I received an ARC (several ARCs) in exchange for an honest review.
3 out of 5 butterflies
4 out of 5 butterflies
4 out of 5 butterflies
And don’t miss the first two standalone titles in the Cross Creek series, CROSSING HEARTS and CROSSING THE LINE!
Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.
Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.
But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?
Cocky farmer Eli Cross plays twice as hard as he works. When his latest stunt drums up a heap of negative PR for the family farm, he grudgingly agrees to play host to an ambitious New York City photographer. Her feature on Cross Creek could be just the ticket to show the country what the Cross brothers do best…which is more problem than solution for Eli.
Scarlett Edwards-Stewart has photographed everything from end zones to war zones. She’s confident she can ace this one little story to help her best friend’s failing magazine. At least, she would be if her super-sexy host wasn’t so tight lipped. But the more Scarlett works with Eli, the more she discovers that he’s not who he seems. Can his secret bring them closer together? Or will it be the very thing that tears them apart?
Cate ditched the napkins she hadn’t really needed in favor of doing her job, loading up a tray with Owen and Lane’s order and making her way back to their table.
“Oatmeal raisin cookies without walnuts are an abomination,” she overheard Lane say, but Owen, whose back was to her, simply snorted.
“You’re cracked. Simple is better. Plus, they’re not called oatmeal raisin walnut cookies. Still—” A soft thunk sounded off from beneath the table, followed by a less-than-polite hiss from Owen. “Ow, dude! What the…oh, hell.” He snapped to attention, his coffee mug meeting the Formica with enough force to slosh some of its contents over the rim. “Cate. Hi.”
She thought of the walnuts that had been in every single one of the cookies she’d baked at oh-dark-thirty this morning and arched a brow. “Still hungry, I take it?”
“Sure. I mean”—he closed his eyes. Exhaled. Damn, eyelashes like that were honestly unjust on a man. Also, really freaking hot—“the cookies were great, and I’ve got room for breakfast, too.”
“Glad to hear it. Two breakfast specials, one with scrambled eggs, one with eggs over easy, extra home fries, and extra bacon.” She delivered their respective plates. “Can I get you anything else?”
“Just the check, if you have a minute,” Owen said, and shit. She might be a little light in the filter department (okay, fine, so she didn’t really have one. Potato, potahto), but the last thing she wanted was to piss off one of Clementine’s customers. Not to mention lose her tip.
“You don’t have to rush,” Cate started, and jeez, those eyelashes were even more lethal when they framed his wide, gray stare.
“Unfortunately, I do. Got a date with the invoices and books at the farm, and it’s gonna take me all day if I’m lucky.”
Confusion kicked in, good and hard. “But it’s Sunday.”
“Yes ma’am,” he agreed.
A prickle worked its way through her, half irritation at the politeness that bordered on poor-Cate sympathy, half something else that headed decidedly south.
She tried again. “You’re working all day?”
Most everybody around here held Sundays pretty sacred out of self-preservation. Working the land seven days a week was brutal, even for the most well-practiced farmers. And from the look of Owen’s biceps, he was extremely well-practiced.
He dropped his chin but not his stare. “Don’t really have a choice. Cross Creek’s books aren’t going to balance themselves.”
“You don’t have a bookkeeper?” She shifted back on the linoleum, her confusion turning to outright shock.
“If we did, I don’t reckon I’d be working the books on a Sunday.”
Huh. Looked like she wasn’t the only one who was a little light in the filter department. “Okay, fair,” she said. “But Cross Creek is the largest farm in Millhaven. I just figured you’d have someone who handles that for you full-time.”
“Believe me, I wish we did,” Owen said, and her mouth opened of its own volition.
Cate heard the non-question before she even knew she’d spring it past her lips, but oh, how she wished to have it back. This was a bad idea. No, check that. This was an epically shitastic idea, with don’t-you-even-think-it sprinkles on top. A full-time job was more commitment than she’d had in three years. The thought of something so regular, so permanent, gave her the shakes.
But then Owen was looking at her with a not-small amount of curiosity, and backpedaling was as impossible as catching smoke in her bare hands. “As a matter of fact, yeah,” he said, straightening against the booth. “I’d love to hire a full-time bookkeeper. Why? Do you know someone who’s interested?”
No. Nope. Sorry, buddy, I sure don’t. These were all things her brain instructed her mouth to say, but her mouth—which liked to eat—betrayed her by going with, “Actually, I am.”
The stunned silence that followed told her she’d better start making her case before he dismissed the idea as downright nutters. “I mean, I don’t have a degree or any formal training, but I’m really good with numbers, and I’m not afraid of hard work. I can start as soon as you like, tomorrow, even, and—”
“—I don’t need…wait, what?” Cate asked as his answer caught up with her verbal landslide.
“You said you’re good with numbers and you can start tomorrow, right?” Owen’s piercing gray stare was as tough to decipher as the rest of his expression.
She managed to nod. “Yes.” She was only on evenings and weekends at the diner and The Bar. Time would be tight, but she could swing it. She had to. “I can.”
“Great. Then you’ve got yourself a job.”
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About Kimberly Kincaid:
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2015 RWA RITA® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.